Army Life – Observations From Normandie After D-Day (2) – Dan Writes Home – August 3, 1944

Dan in uniform @ 1945

Daniel Beck Guion

The German soldiers, recently here, were youngsters from 16 to 20 years old. They were largely service troops, and very poorly fed – “even the dogs would not eat their food” said one reliable source. They often became so hungry that they would munch grass! Some returned from furloughs in Germany almost in tears, with reports that their families, their homes, their friends had all been killed or destroyed in the allied air offensive. Germans visiting French homes were quite agreeable when they came along to a house, but if two or more came together they were distrustful – afraid that what they might say would be held against them by the others.

I have taken every opportunity to talk to the people, hoping to become proficient in the language while I have the opportunity. I talk to the washerwomen who come to the stream running below our camp. I speak to the farmers working in the fields near us. I speak to the children who long ago, learned to ask for “shooly goon” (chewing gum) and “bon-bons” (candy) from every passing soldier. I visit the farms each evening and gossip with the families – reviewing the war news, asking for cider or cherries, answering questions about America (“are there many elephants there, and camels in the deserts?”) I help two charming French girls with their English lessons, patiently striving to make them pronounce the “th” without a “z” sound.

It’s a very healthful life, living out-of-doors, getting plenty of sleep, appreciating food that would have seemed unpalatable in London, enjoying every minute of this new and absorbing life. Because things here are more exotic than in England, I count this experience second only to my sojourn in Venezuela, and I thank the fates that pull the world’s strings for giving me this opportunity. Packages received here in France will be much more appreciated than they were in England because here we can buy nothing except cider, cherries and an occasional egg.  All the villages, hamlets and cities are “off limits” to all American servicemen and what rations of cigarettes, candy and toilet articles we receive, are doled out meagerly by the army, free of charge and at irregular intervals with the plea that we take only what we really need.

                  Particular requests

                   Cashmere Bouquet soap

                   Gillette’s Brushless Shaving Cream

                   Chocolate bars

                   Any 35-mm camera film (except type A Kodachrome)

                   Half and Half smoking tobacco

On Saturday and Sunday, more Special Pictures.

Judy Guion


Army Life – Observations From Normandie After D-Day (1) – Dan Writes Home – August 3, 1944

Dan-uniform (2)

Daniel Beck Guion

Normandie, 3 Aout, 1944

Altho’ much of the novelty of our new surroundings has worn off, I am still impressed by the casual manner in which the people here live their lives while whole villages and towns are bludgeoned into stark masses of rubble and the roar of planes fills the sky and the endless stream of trucks, jeeps, tanks etc. rumble incessantly toward the front, camouflaged in their own tattle-tale dust clouds. Norman folk carry pitifully small bundles that represent their personal possessions are crowded into the steep-sided gutters that line the narrow roads. They are people who are returning to their homes – many of which are mere spectral walls, some of which are miraculously untouched.

In odd contrast to the villages and roads, the countryside has made no compromises with the old man Mars. It is as if he set his feet down only in certain villages which lay along his path, and no evidence of his passing exists beyond the tall, thick hedgerows lining the highways. It is haying time. Fields are dotted with piles of sweet hay, with men kneeling beside them, tying the hay into neat little bundles by a dexterous twist of a strand of grass. These bundles will be fed to the horses and cattle when winter comes, later in the year, to Normandy.

War is fickle. We seem to have been projected into a countryside that scarcely admits the war is going on. I cannot help remembering the day we left London to come here – the sirens were moaning plaintively and we saw several buses laden with evacuee children. Yet here, so much closer to the front, evacuees are returning to their homes! Only at night do we hear Jerry’s planes – usually just a few scattered bomb-reconnaissance planes. We can no longer hear the guns from the front.

I have spoken to many French people since coming here, and I am gratified to know that my French classes at Richmond were thoroughly worthwhile. I have difficulty in understanding French when it is spoken rapidly but that, of course, is to be expected. The following bits of information I was able to catch from those Frenchmen who were persuaded to speak slowly:

Rations under the Germans – 2 pkgs (40 cigarettes) per person per month; 2 small pieces of crude soap per month; no chocolate or other candy. Cider is made in December. If it is made right it will keep for three years (if the Germans and the Yanks don’t get it!) From the hard cider is made “Cognac”, more properly called “calnados” from the country that manufactures it. Even more properly it might be called rot-gut apple jack by those who have the temerity to try it. Eggs are not abundant because it has been impossible to find grain for the poultry.

Tomorrow, I will finish this letter home to family and friends in Trumbull with more observations from Dan.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dan Writes Home About The Willys And The Rumored Invasion – August 25, 1940

DBG - Dan (cropped) fron Ced, Dan and car - 1941

Daniel Beck Guion

Wed. Aug. 27


Dear Dad, this is jiust a hasty note (in spite of my haste I seem to have taken the time to insert an extra “i” in “just”) to add my bit to what Ced might have written last night. He mailed his letter while I slept this morning, thus depriving me of the chance to enclose this note in his envelope.

The envelope in which you enclosed the Certificate of Merit and the clipping from Bridgeport Life arrived yesterday, over one month from the date of mailing ….That in spite of its being via airmail! The letter offered to send a check to tide us over the starting period. We are the ones who should be sending you a check to pay for the Willys, so flagrantly wrested from you. I have already directed you to acquire title to any money I have lying idle in the bank as payment on the Willys. You have not acknowledged it yet.

You did properly in reading Fred Chion’s letter, and I have sent it to Barbara to read, and to return it to you so that Ted can read it.

Re: Jap Invasion. The only rumor I have heard about any invasion is that there must be some secret threat or the Government would not go to all that expense (and this, after eight years of the New Deal!). My personal opinion is that the new methods of warfare might employ the term “over the top” in reference to the top of the world, i.e. over the North Pole from Europe …. A much shorter and apparently less hazardous route than the old ones, now that air has come to stay. Alaskan defense, then, would be available against not only Japan, but Russia and Europe, too.

Regards to all, especially Don (Stanley, cousin and son of Aunt Anne (Peabody) Stanley, who has been spending the summer at the Trumbull House), whom I have shamefully neglected.


Tomorrow, Dan’s note of Sept. 9th, and a letter dated Sept. 11th, written to Lad. Wednesday, another letter home from Sept. 14th, on Thursday one from Oct. 8th and on Friday, one from Oct. 9th.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska – Dan Writes A Limerick In Honor Of Grandpa’s Hay Fever And A Cigar Story – September 18, 1940

DBG - Dan only (cropped) fron Ced, Dan and car - 1941

Daniel Beck Guion

Wed. Sept. 18


Said Rag Weed to Golden Rod tough

As they spoke of hay fever and stuff

“Aw!, Cut out your goddam breezin’.

A.D. is hardly sneezin’.

Your pollen ain’t quite up to ‘snuff’”.

“Today”, as is so tritely reiterated on such frequent occasion, “I am a man!” The episode, as you may have already guessed, involves the delirious past-time vulgarly referred to as “smoking a cigar”. There are divers cigars. There are Havana fillers. There are good five cents cigars. There are better 10 cent cigars. There are Corona Corona’s. There are Blackstones. There are little cigars. There are big cigars. And there are ROSSIs! Rossi EE.  Imported! From Italy. They are long and skinny. A black stogie effect. I bought two from “The Greek”. He has a Delicatessen on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, but that is a minor detail. Here is how it happened:

Yesterday morning Bud Johnston, transitman, came to work smoking a cigar… nothing unusual, you understand, just smoking an ordinary cigar. We were all in Hal Reherd’s Hearse, which he has converted into a ‘bus for the survey crews. “Swanny” Swanson and I are Hal’s chainman. Fred and Orme are Bud Johnston’s chainman. We all ride in together in the converted hearse. Bud was smoking a cigar.

“Say, Hal”, I ventured, “why don’t you smoke cigars like Bud does? We can’t have that crew any better than we are!” (There is quite a rivalry between the two crews, each trying to out-do the other) “Well!”, replied Hal. “It is up to the chainmen to keep the transitman in cigars!”

“Did you hear that, men?”, said Bud to his chainmen. “It is up to you to bring me cigars.”

“Tomorrow”, said Hal, warming to his subject, “tomorrow, Dan, it is your turn to bring the cigar. Next day, Swanny’s turn.”


Faced by a situation that might grow to undesirable proportions, I resolved to put a stop to it early. Last night I went to the Greek on Fourth Avenue. “Have you any strong cigars?”, I asked.

He smiled. “I have some cigars that will knock you out”, he replied. He walked to the end of the counter. “These are imported from Italy. If you smoke them on an empty stomach you will pass out. They are like liquor”.

“Not me!”, I assured him. “They are not for me! I want them for a practical joke. How much are they?”

“Five cents.”

“Give me two of them.”

I paid him a dime and left. This morning I gave one to Hal, very publicly, to ensure his having to smoke it. He offered no objections. He lit it, and, so help me, he smoked on that long crooked skinny black cigar until almost noon time! Swanny and I giggled at first. Thought it would get him soon. Then we began to wonder. He seemed to be enjoying it. I pulled out the other cigar and looked at it. Smelled it. Nothing particularly terrifying there! “Do you want half of it?” I asked Swanny.

“Sure.” I opened my pocket knife and cut it in two. “Have you a match?”

We worked on our sections for a while, and after several matches had been applied, succeeded in getting underway.


In five minutes Swanny’s half had disappeared. “Have you given up?” I asked.

“Yeah”, he answered soberly.

I took another puff, and spit for the 15th time. Then I quietly extinguished the cigar. Only about half an inch had been consumed, but a lot of smoke had resulted. We looked with respect at Hal who was chewing the end of his much-reduced cigar.


Tomorrow it is Swanny’s turn. He says he is going to look for a Fourth of July sparkler and insert it secretly in a cigar. We hope it will work. It is our last chance.


Enclosed are four self-explanatory photos. 10 o’clock PM. Bed time.



On Saturday and Sunday, Special Pictures.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – A Double-Header Birthday Celebration (2) – Dear Ced And Dear Dan – August 18, 1940

This week, the letters are written in August of 1940, Grandpa’s letter is a real long one so I’ll be posting it over four days and them I’ll be posting a letter from Dan to everyone in Trumbull.

Ced @ 1945

Cedric Duryee Guion in Alaska

R-89    August 18th, 1940

Dear Ced:

Thank you, very much, old son, for your long interesting letter of August 5th which arrived on the 13th and told me lots of interesting details about your job, the city and your doings in general. I had written a card to Rusty (Rusty Heurlin, a family friend and future well-known Alaskan Artist) about you boys and in the same mail in which your letter arrived was a note from Rusty enclosing your letter to him and announcing his intention or hope of seeing me soon and learning more of the details of your adventures as related in your various letters home.

The Island

The Island – A Family Summer Camp

Dave left at 6 AM this morning for his Boy Scout trip to the camp on our island in Lake Winnipesaukee. He was very undecided up to the last minute as to whether he wanted to go or stay home for the birthday party, the meeting Tuesday of the newly formed dramatic club which he was instrumental in starting, etc.

I saw Charlie’s (Charlie Hall, a neighbor and friend) new car yesterday and it is a very nice looking boat. It is a ’36 Ford sedan, tan, which he bought at the Automotive Twins from Tomek. He sold the old car for $25.

Speaking of Willkie’s speech and incidentally of the Gilbert and Sullivan broadcast I am listening to right now, I have wondered what you do without a radio, or maybe you have one available to which you can listen. Don’t you miss it a lot? What station can you get in Alaska besides the Pacific coast stations ?

I am delighted to know you have the sort of job you like and the remuneration is not bad either. Don’t tell anyone but you’re doing better than your dad was a your age and better than he is right now. More power to all of you.

Dan in white jacket in Alaska

Daniel Beck Guion in Alaska

Dear Dan:

Your very amusing letter about the Duke arrived the day after I read your letter to Barbara, which she promptly showed to me at your request. I returned the compliment via Helen and have not yet gotten it back which is too bad as I know the New Rochelle folks who came up yesterday would have enjoyed it.

Friday there was a letter from Fred Chion (enclosed) addressed to you from Venezuela. And now you may fire when you are ready, Gridley, because I opened and read it, for two reasons: first I was not sure it could be forwarded to another address with the Venezuelan stamp on it, but more important, in any event, it would take much longer to reach you than if I enclosed it in one of my airmail letters. I also took the liberty of showing it to Helen ((Peabody) Human, Mrs. Ted Human) while she was here. She asked if she might take it down and show it to Ted, but here I was quite firm in my refusal.

Ashcroft has at last paid us for the stencil cutting job you did and in consequence there is deposited to your credit $14 which cleans up the indebtedness. I got to thinking the other day about your stock and what would happen if for some reason you wanted to sell it and use the cash or I wanted to transfer it to some other stock. I found that if you signed and returned to me the blank form attached, it would be possible for me to sell the stock in your name without the necessity of sending the certificate itself to you in Alaska for signature. So if you will sign your name exactly as indicated opposite the X  and return to me, everything will be jake.

Bumped into Miss Sherwood of Bridgeport Life the other day who asked about you and wanted to be remembered to you when I wrote. It would be nice if you dropped her a postal card.

Do you boys hear anything said about the threat of a Jap invasion of Alaskan territory? Some of the excitable’s at Washington seem to think such a move is imminent, hence the feverish efforts on defense plans for Alaska.


Tomorrow, I’ll begin the second page of this long letter, this portion addressed to Lad in Venezuela and I’ll finish it on Thursday. Then on Friday, I’ll be posting a letter from Dan to the family back home.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear Convalescents (1) – Extract Of Guion (Dan And Ced) – July 16, 1944

This letter from Grandpa to his scattered flock contains excerpts from letters he has received in the last week. It is quite a collection and it will take two days to finish the letter. Enjoy.

Trumbull, Conn., July 16, 1944

Dear Convalescents:

As your medical advisor I am recommending this week a full dose of extract of Guion, consisting of vitamins DBG (Daniel Beck Guion), CDG (Cedric Duryee Guion), MIG (Marian (Irwin) Guion) a substitute for APG (Alfred Peabody Guion, Lad), (at the moment unobtainable) and DPG David Peabody Guion), to be taken with a little water, before, after or between meals.

Daniel Beck Guion with a buddy in Europe - circa 1945

Daniel Beck Guion, on the left with a friend , overseas

Extract of DBG. (Daniel Beck Guion) (July 3, London) Gone completely is the idyllic lull about which I wrote so enthusiastically a few weeks past, and in its place has come a period which keeps us too much on our mettle to indulge in languid philosophy. Now we are engulfed in a realism which focuses war in sharp, unmistakable images, exciting… significant… decisive. The none too subtle curtain of the sensor must set as a haze filter to your perception, but one day soon I shall entertain you all with tall tales of “what Dan did in the war” – – and I promise it won’t be too boring. Thoroughly hail and equally hearty, Dan

Ced and car - 1940 (3)-head shot

Cedric Duryee Guion

Extract of CDG: (Cedric Duryee Guion) Anchorage almanac. Weather today clear, sun rises before I get up, sun sets about bedtime. Hours of darkness, practically none. Temperature, good for swimming. Hospitalization notice: One 37 Buick seriously ill of spinal meningitis and requiring extensive surgery for return to active health. Medicines unobtainable in Alaska due to shortage of equipment as of war necessities. An emergency requisition has been placed requesting necessary herbs and tonics. The transmission, after a long and quarrelsome disturbance, accompanied by groans of pain for the last three months, finally had a hemorrhage and was partially paralyzed. Low, second and reverse suffered complete collapse of the motovaty nerves and left poor high badly overburdened, thus affecting composure of chauffeur. While injury seemed trivial at first, treatment proved unobtainable and a major catastrophe developed. Patient was unavoidably retired from active service and in lieu of treatment, it was determined that further long-standing elements must be treated and so the heart was removed for observation and repairs. Tragically enough, this disclosed more faults that required unobtainable replacements. Now patient is interned in isolation ward until pistons, transmission parts and other odds and ends can be obtained.

Another birthday come and  gone with a very pleased recipient of gifts from home. McDonald’s had a little supper party with cake and candles. My burns (ha ha) have nearly disappeared (all signs of them, I mean). They turned out not half as bad as the other ones did, and I lost only three days work. I finished my course, took the CAA test and made an average of 86 which was up near the top of those grades received by the other students. Now I just need flying time and lots more of it. Can’t you picture me up high in the sky peeking around behind a cirrus cloud to see if the dew point is anywhere near the base of the cloud, or flying blind into the side of the next mountain only to discover I’d forgotten to correct for easterly deviation, and neglecting at the same time to consider the wind drift. Ah, me, I wonder if I’ll ever get to use any of your laboriously gleaned aeronautical knowledge. Incidentally, if you want to get a good education in meteorology, as it is affected by weather, and get it in an easy to take form, get the book “STORM” from Mrs. Ives, or from the library. It has humor, pathos, drama, suspense and human interest all woven around the birth, growth and passing of a storm and its effects on men and their puny works.

I received a letter from the Reader’s Digest telling me that my subscription had expired and going on to say that they had a little stencil with my name on it which had been directing my copies to me and that before they threw it out they just wanted to remind me that the subscription had expired and let me know that it (the stencil) was in fine company – – MacArthur, Sinclair Lewis, Gen. Marshall and a host of others. There was a lot of other dribble which I don’t recall, but it kind of burned me, so I sat down and wrote them a letter explaining that it seemed a little odd that two weeks after sending a gift card from my Dad, and promising me so much, they now tell me the subscription has expired and didn’t I think it good to renew it? I also suggested that my father probably really intended that I get 12 copies of the magazine, not just a gift card. Then I flattered them by saying that I wasn’t surprised that MacArthur, etc., subscribed to the Digest, but that I didn’t give a damn who read it and took it just because I happen to like its contents – – no doubt the same reason the celebrities would profess, and that I was surprised that Roosevelt wasn’t listed, “didn’t he take the Digest, or was it an intentional slight.” I rambled on at length concerning the rest of the letter, but I did have fun writing it. In closing I said to remember me to Sidney Bagshaw if he was around, and signed the thing. I am curious to see what kind of an answer I’ll get, if any. The first copy (June) arrived today. I hope they don’t strike me from the records. In today’s mail there was also a copy of “Federal World Union” and the “Union Now” paper. The more I see the more I am encouraged. You ought to get on the bandwagon yourself. There are more and more people with political power joining the movement every month and I wouldn’t be surprised if it is heard from in some measure in the fall elections. I wish to heck Stassen had been nominated by the Republicans instead of Dewey, and could get the Presidency. He is back of the idea to a large extent and I feel would try to work it out. I don’t know about Dewey although he may be leaning that way too, for all I know. I think he could certainly improve on what we’ve got, anyway. I was reclassified 1-A three days ago and I think I can beat the rap again.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting the rest of this letter with excerpts from Marian and Dave along with Grandpa’s usual home town doings.

Judy Guion

Life In Alaska – Dan’s Letter Home (3) – A Few Words To The Rest Of The Family – August 6, 1940

Ced, Dan  and car - 1940 (3)

Daniel Beck Guion and Cedric Duryee Guion

And now a few words to the rest of the family. First, to Butch “cherubim” Zabel. What is the idea of rushing this brother (sister?) business? Isn’t one set of diapers a sort of overproduction at best? What of two sets? But maybe there is method in this madness. Of course, I shall prepare to meet a flock of nephews and nieces when I return next summer, or the next; not everyone can be prolific!

To Zeke; better stick to fishing… You know… Maine in the summer…

And to those two ungrateful wretches Dick and Dave. I pause to level a few well-aimed barbs. First, let me make allowances for the small amount of time available for you bums to write, Dave with his seven hours of assorted homework and Jack Benny, Dick with his unemptied garbage and too empty oil bottle, to say nothing of his selected harem. But it seems that now summer is here, there might be a paltry 23 or 24 hours of extra time each day during which it might be possible to think of writing me a letter; I even have secretly harbored a hope that you might actually write the letter, but of course I realize how silly it was of me. This is not a hint that you must write me, any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, like the actual writing of a letter, which would be a coincidence indeed!

As I write, I am enveloped by an acrid cloud of smoke from a real CIGAR being experimentally puffed from time to time by that #1 amateur Cedric himself. It seems that one of the boys at the airport had a baby, or, that is, he collaborated on the proposition, being married, and all like that. So nothing must do except that every man must smoke a cigar in celebration, and Ced has chosen the sensible period just after dinner to do his duty, thinking to be sure of his supper, at least, and to have his bed within easy staggering distance if the worst comes to whatever the worst of smoking a cigar comes to… Especially Ced!

And now, as the heavy smoke closes in on all sides, I must bid you all a hasty adieu, or hasta luego, while I grope for the door and the promise of fresh air beyond.


Tomorrow, A letter from Grandpa and on Friday, a letter from none other than Dave.

Judy Guion

Life in Alaska (2) – Dan’s Letter Home – The Duke – August 6, 1940


CDG - Ced with mustache at his wedding

Cedric Duryee Guion

 A fellow named Peterson has a mink farm that was seen by Ced and me as guests of the Bragaws, of whom (not the minks!) Ced must have spoken. If he has been at all close mouthed about the whole affair, you may attribute it to modesty, for Cedric Duryee has been associated with royalty! Yes sir, and it happened on the boat coming north. There were two girls making the trip, one a school teacher named Edna Schimpke, the other a secretary named Florence Melder, who, it turns out, is first cousin to Mr. Bragaw, secretary of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. Handsome Ced, donning his most fetching mustachio, causes these two women to swoon in his presence the very first day out of Seattle. From that moment onward, he is hounded every time he sets foot on deck. Now it so happens that Edna Schimpke bears a resemblance to Wally Simpson of continental fame, while Ced, so the mongers whisper, is really Ed Windsor incognito. Soon the title of Duke is bandied about from mouth to mouth when Ced is being discussed. The Duke and the Duchess are seen everywhere together. They arrive in Anchorage on the same train, and we are invited to the home of the Bragaws for a spot of tea that very afternoon. It was only natural, then that we should be invited to see the mink farm, which is really a farm run by Peterson for the avowed purpose of raising minks. But all tales have an ending, and Edna “Wally” Schimpke waved a tearful farewell from the observation platform of Col. Ohlsen’s Rail Road Car, while the Duke callously consumed seconds and thirds at Mrs. McCain’s boarding house, arriving at the station after the tear drenched hanky of “Wally” had disappeared around the corner; only the cloud of smoke from the engine lingering in mute testimony of one of life’s cruel tragedies.

But Florence Melder remains, and has been employed in one of the leading Banks in Anchorage. All that remains for Cedric is his mustachio, bedraggled but stubbornly perched in the lee of his nose!  “Out! Out! Damned spot!”  (Freely quoted from Lady Macbeth).

Tomorrow, the final portion of this letter from Dan to the Home Folks. On Thursday, a letter from Grandpa to Ced and on Friday, a rare missive from Dave to his three brothers away from home.

Judy Guion


Life In Alaska – Dan’s Letter Home – Verdure Of Alaska Is Varied – August 8, 1940

DBG - Dan (cropped) fron Ced, Dan and car - 1941

Daniel Beck Guion

August 6

Padre y hermanos mios,

The guilty shame that has been hanging like a pall over my head is at last to be dissipated! I am writing you a letter! The letter I sent to Barbara yesterday seemed to answer directly your request for a few earthly details, and, even more oddly, I asked her to let you see the letter! Today I received your letter Serial # 42 phew asking for that very information. Is it not veritably a coincidence? You don’t think so? Then let me explain in further detail:

The weather has been like a well-shuffled pack of cards; one day hot and sunny, the next cold and cloudy, with none in between for the bone pile. Yesterday I saw many salmon four miles up the river, wearing away their heads and backs digging depressions for future generations, known to the contemporaries as spawn. If one were to face South, the distant mass which is Mount McKinley would rise above the horizon to the north, so that, by the simple expedient of turning around, the eye could perceive it. The verdure of Alaska is varied. There are birches, the cottonwoods, the spruces, the cottonwoods, the birches, the spruces, and many birches. There are no hardwoods, but softwood prevails, among which, on every hand, are seen birches, cottonwoods, and spruces. The original timber, largely spruce, has been cleared away by past sourdoughs and Russian trappers, and the land has been covered by a second growth of cottonwood and birch, with occasional stunted spruce trees. In the air are myriad mosquitoes, many of which forsake the air for the firmer footing afforded by various epidermi, under which are found many corpuscles much prized by these mosquitoes. Wild red raspberries grow raw in great profusion.

Tomorrow, the second portion of this letter and on Wednesday, the conclusion. On Thursday, a letter from Grandpa, and on Friday, Dave writes a letter to his absent brothers.

Judy Guion

Trumbull – Dear High School Graduate (1) – Dave’s Graduation And News From Dan – June 25, 1944

We are now at the beginning of the summer of 1944.  Lad and Marian are back in Pomona, California; Dan is in London; Ced remains in Anchorage, Alaska; Dick is in Brazil and Dave is home in Trumbull for a few more days before he heads back to Camp Crowder, Missouri.

David Peabody Guion

Trumbull Conn., June 25, 1944

Dear High School Graduate:
There are certain reoccurring events in the life and progress of my children that serve as period stepping stones, aside from birthdays – – such as turning you over to the Shelton draft board, and, what I have immediately in mind, graduation. I saw the youngest of my sons receive his diploma last night and it brought back memories of that same occasion for each of you. As far as I can recollect, however, the whole affair, as managed the other night at Bassick (Bassick High School, Bridgeport)  was arranged and conducted in a more satisfactory manner than any of the previous ones – – and that opinion has nothing to do with the fact that Dave had any part in it. To be sure he was one of three out of a total of 26 who had joined the armed forces who was on hand to receive his diploma, and thereby caused a little special ceremony to be enacted. Most of these affairs are too long. This was not. There was no tedious reading of each name and waiting for that person to come forward to receive his parchment to the accompaniment of reiterated and tiresome applause. Each received his diploma in silence as they walked out. All names were printed on the programs given to each of the audience. Speeches were not overlong. The whole affair, with a satisfying aftertaste, was ended by 9:30. So Dave became the “Last of the Mohicans”.

Dave got home much earlier than we expected him. He walked into my office Monday, his Army uniform plastered to his body by a naughty shower that hit him walking from the station. He looks about the same, healthy but with no additional weight. He seems much interested in the Signal Corps work and hopes, but is not banking on it, of getting a chance at O.C.S. He goes back Tuesday. Red Sirene is also home on furlough and he too goes back Tuesday. Jean’s married brother, in the Marines, is also on furlough and he too goes back on Tuesday.

Daniel Beck Guion

I don’t suppose any of you have had the experience of a 300 pound object resting on your chest, but perhaps you can imagine the relief when he gets off. In that case you may have somewhat of an idea how I felt when I received a V-mail letter from London dated June 6th, as follows:

“Today the war seems much nearer to its conclusion than only yesterday. For so long have we been working towards this day that it began to seem that it would never really happen – – that it was just a distant  “certainty” which we all took for granted – – that never quite realized! This morning I heard the first “rumor”, third hand, by word-of-mouth. ‘Allied paratroops had landed in France’. The false reports had already been spread days ago, and a glance out of the window at the streets of London failed to reveal any abnormality. No church bells, no horns blowing, just the normal traffic – – both vehicular and pedestrian. London was characteristically undisturbed on the surface, but by noontime when I went out to eat, I found that the newspapers had been sold out immediately and the invasion was the predominant topic of discussion. At a Red Cross Club I listened to the radio over which the BBC was broadcasting recordings of the opening stages. Later in the evening the radio was the center of interest. Never have I seen so many of the boys so interested in a newscast. I suppose each of us realizes how, by a stroke of fate, we might have been one of the men going into France on ‘D’ day! I am on duty tonight which prevents my finding out how London is spending the evening but I suspect there will be little hilarity because most of the people have friends and relatives in the invasion armies. The fall of Rome created scarcely a ripple of excitement, and the staid BBC announced that item in its regular laconic fashion. The newspapers permitted themselves rather large headlines, but certainly not in the manner you could call sensational. I believe today marks the great speeding up of the tempo that will carry this degenerate Martian Symphony to a brief but perhaps terrible coda. Then – – peace! and home! and a convalescent world turned toward the healing sun of hope”.

Tomorrow I will be posting the rest of the letter with some news from Dick and Marian. Grandpa closes the letter with his usual imaginative style. On Wednesday, another letter from Grandpa, Thursday, a letter from Lad and on Friday, a letter to Ced from Rusty.

Judy Guion